Praise my new Sony DVD player. It plays any recording at a faster speed without muting the sound. Now I can zip through a dumb movie or TV show 1.4 times faster. This helps me locate the good bad stuff with less boredom and despair.
Case in point: The first season of the 1970’s cop show, S.W.A.T. (short for Special Weapons And Tactics). You can tell how dated this series is because they use periods between each letter in the title, the way old timers used to spell acronyms. (Or maybe they kept in the periods not to confuse the typical fan with limited reading skills.)
SWAT teams did exist but don’t mistake this series for a docu-drama. Comedy is more like it. If you’re into comic book cops, this is for you.
The series was a typical Aaron Spelling production. No shades of gray. Every week S.W.A.T. (located in a unnamed city because real cities know better) faces off with another psychopath on the loose. Take the momma’s boy who is killing a model’s boyfriends because he thinks she would be with him. Or the creepy guy who kidnaps a high school student and plans to sail away with her to paradise.
You’ll cringe when the psychopath tells his helpless female captive that it will work out, they’re meant to be together. And don’t worry, he adds, I’ll lose weight, you’ll see.
With that kind of material I think S.W.A.T. actually stood for Stupid Writers – Asinine Television.
The big selling point for S.W.A.T. was the opening scene: the para-military police unit goes into action, dressed in black with bullet-proof vests, grabbing automatic weapons off the rack before they jump into an oversized van. (Batman had his batmobile; these guys had their S.W.A.T. mobile.)
They would rush off with enough firepower to kill off half a city. They would use that firepower to blow away the bad guys. The stuff of Shakespearean drama.
The theme song heard in the opening sequence became a top ten hit on the radio. After hearing it so many times, I’ve composed lyrics for it:
“What a load,
It’s a load,
It’s a load
Of bull flop.”
When you hear the theme, you’ll soon discover how the lyrics fall into place. If only Pavarotti or another great opera singer could have sung them…
To wrap up this review of the train wreck called S.W.A.T., let’s take a look at key scenes from one episode, Omega One.
Some psychopathic college students have decided to take over a chemical plant and threaten to blow it up – and everything nearby in the Unnamed City – unless they’re paid a million bucks in small bills. They organize other students to have a protest outside the plant because it is suspected to be involved in bio-warfare experiments. The peaceniks are all holding handmade signs on long wooden poles, lifting them up and down, shouting.
The leader of the protest convinces the plant supervisor to let them in so that they can see for themselves that the place has stopped making biological weapons. Unknown to most of the peaceniks, the plant’s security guards, and the cops, the psychopaths have hidden rifles inside their demonstration signs. It’s amazing how a high-powered military rifle can be easily concealed behind a pike and some poster board.
Here’s the lead psycho, a nut named Stockwell. How come all the insane criminals have such simple tough-sounding surnames? Then again, maybe it wouldn’t play dramatically if a S.W.A.T. officer got on the bullhorn and shouted, “Give it up, Weiner!” or “It’s over, Honeydew!”
Here Stockwell confronts the S.W.A.T. leader known as Hondo. Trivia: Hondo had a brother who owned an automobile body repair shop. His name was Bondo.
Can you spot the detail that easily proves Stockwell is a psychopath? No, not the gun drawn pointed at Hondo. It’s his horrible sweater – nutzoid, man!
The bad guys have deactivated the safety mechanism to some unspecified system in the plant. Pressure builds. The city has to pay up or get blown away.
Who was the technical consultant for the show? I’ve heard of warning meters but one that indicates EXPLODE? Then again, Aaron Spelling had to keep it on the same level of the average viewer: simple. See Dick run simple.